Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) consists in a complex and diverse development disorder. In recognition of generalization difficulties as fundamental deficit, along the autism spectrum and social comprehension problems, it seemed essential to develop an intervention program aimed to promoting not only the acquisition but also the generalization of social skills associated with Theory of Mind (ToM). One of the aspects for generalization to occur, is to promote social understanding through group therapeutic approaches.
Objectives: We wanted to test whether social skills acquired could be generalized. Having been used an intervention Group, which conducted the completed intervention program, and a comparison group which held just a phase of acquisition, expecting that first Group were able to generalize and to adapt the skills of ToM acquiring new contexts.
Methods: The initial sample included a total of 12 children with Asperger Syndrome (6 belonging to the intervention Group-G1 and 6 in the comparison Group-G2). Age of the children between 74 and 91 months (M = 82.42; DP = 4.85).INSTRUMENTS: Diagnostic Criteria Instruments (Gillberg and Gillberg); Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales; Australian Scale for Asperger's syndrome evaluation; Tests of theory of mind (ToM).PROCEDURE: The 6 children who constituted the G1 frequented an individual support session and a session of group social skills training. Children of the G2 were matched with children of G1 in terms of age, year of schooling, Intellectual Quotient and number of symptoms.Three evaluation moments occurred(M1,M2,M3), final assessment was when G1 concluded the generalization phase and G2 concluded the acquisition phase.: To make the comparison between G1 and G2, we brought out the Kruskal-Wallis test, the non-parametric test equivalent to one-way ANOVA independent. Firstly, we proceeded to the comparison between the two groups for each of the assessment moments
Results: About the characteristics of Asperger Syndrome, evaluated by EASA, exists a significant difference between the G1 and G2. Specifically we can say that in M2, the G1 has a domain of ToM (H (1) = 11.00, p <. 001). The test results show a significant trend Jonckheere towards a higher domain of ToM by G1 in M2, J = 0, z = -3.32, r =-. 96.Also in M3, the G1 has a domain of ToM (H (1) = 5.6205., p <). The test revealed a significant trend in Jonckheere results towards a higher domain of ToM by G1 in M3, J = -2.37, z = 4, r =-. 68.
Conclusions: The analysis of results seems to confirm the initial hypothesis of this study. There was a gradual evolution of the two groups but this development was significantly higher in the case of the intervention group, just after the period of generalization. The results pointed toward the possibility of social skills acquired may be generalized on the basis of a structured, systematic and intensive intervention.
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